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Poem by Ken Stokes

This Poem by Ken Stokes won first prize in the 2013 Salford Interfaith Art Competition.

Loved

How do I know that I am loved?
If I am broken and dead inside
If the hard shell of life?s experience prevents me from feeling
If I have no one to hold and no one to touch

Love can only be known if I love others.
So empty and dry I pour out life
In the hope of gaining it
For in loving I may learn to feel again

Yet love is always an Olympian feat
To love is to dream beyond hope
Painful because it exposes my vulnerabilities
Hard, it takes every bead of sweat, every agonised thought

I cannot love alone because the spark is soon extinguished
I cannot love alone because I soon seek protection
I cannot love alone because love is always reciprocal
I cannot love alone so thank God I need not do so.

For I trust in one who loves without reserve
whose love is abused but who responds with kindness
An impossibly gracious God who gives and gives
To all whether or not it is what they deserve.

I see this love in a baby born in a stable
And in a child helping her friend on a Salford street
I see this love in a holy child made man for others.
And in a teenager who leaves a gang for the sake his girl.

I see this love in one who heals the sick and feeds the hungry
And in a daughter who smoothes her aged mother?s hair
I see love poured out like blood and water on a cross
And when a Muslim father still loves a son who?s broken his heart

God is all, and since God is love, love is all
There is nothing in the Universe greater
Love alone makes sense of life
And death
There is only love.

Ken Stokes
November 2013